06/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

If You Have A Problem With Alcohol, Stay Away From Danny Meyer's Guide To Cocktails

My father once ate -- by mistake -- a bourbon ball and nearly passed out.

My mother has a glass of Manischewitz Cream Red Concord -- "a sweet but balanced wine with a velvety mouth feel" -- once every decade or so.

Me? Two drinks and I get giddy, then sleepy. There is no cheaper date.

But every once in a while someone makes an exotic drink that hides the taste of the key ingredient, and I suddenly see how I could develop a serious liking for darkened bars and delicious libations.

Which is how I came to read Mix Shake Stir: Recipes from Danny Meyer's Acclaimed New York City Restaurants as if it were pornography.

Do not, if you have a problem with alcohol, open this book -- the pictures alone will have you in the gutter. Really, these beverages are as shiny as jewels. From the glassware to the ice cubes, everything is spectacular. A rim of salt is so even you'd suspect a surgeon applied it. Fruit isn't cut, it's carved. Open this book to any page and you'll find yourself thinking, "Well, it's 5 PM somewhere."

Which is more or less what you'd expect from Danny Meyer, whose New York restaurants include Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, 11 Madison Park, Table, Blue Smoke, The Modern and the Shake Shack -- every one a winner. This man knows how to please his customers, and if you think that's foodie hype, just dip into his memoir, Setting the Table.

Not that you can go to your liquor cabinet and whip up most of these 100 drinks.

There's a slight trick to these drinks: uncommon ingredients. Freshly made ice cubes are the least of it -- we're talking flavored vodkas, obscure syrups, herbs like Thai basil. And then it's just a matter of nicely tweaked recipes. Like a mojito made with champagne and rose water. Or Blue Smoke's Dirty Pete, a martini that calls for olive brine and hot-pepper sauce instead of vermouth.

The proof's in the tasting. For recipes, let's start with the Mortoni, a tribute to the author's father.

makes 1 drink

1 ounce vodka, preferably Ketel One
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce tonic water, preferably Q Tonic
1 lime wedge
1 orange wedge
2 lemon wedges
Fill a rocks glass and a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka and Campari to the shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into the glass, top with the tonic water, and squeeze the juice from the lime and orange wedges and 1 of the lemon wedges into the drink. Garnish with the remaining lemon wedge and serve.

And here's a sample of a more exotic drink.

Thai Basil Bliss
makes 1 drink

5 fresh Thai basil leaves,
4 cubes of fresh pineapple, 1-in. dice
half ounce of Simple Syrup (boil a cup of sugar and a cup of water; cool)
2 ounces of silver tequila
three quarters of an ounce of lime juice, freshly squeezed
splash of champagne (optional)

Muddle --- using a muddler, an easily available bar tool --- 4 Thai basil leaves with pineapple in cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Add simple syrup, tequila and lime juice; shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glass; top with splash of Champagne (if desired). Garnish with the remaining basil leaf.

One last thing. Please holler when you're ready to serve.

[Cross-posted from ]